As the year ends and a new one starts, we want a clean start and a chance to renew. But it’s hard to turn the page if you are still stuck on the current chapter of your life. David Allen’s world-renowned methodology for organizational productivity also happens to be a great tool to for your transition from this year to the next.

Allen created Getting Things Done® (GTD®) to help people transform life’s overwhelm with an integrated work-life management system that’s much more than a set of tips for time management and organization. His personal end-of-year ritual serves as both a celebration and a cleansing and healing moment. Allen and his wife Katherine choose a night to enjoy a meal and spend 30 minutes to an hour focused on a series of questions that inspire, challenge and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings about year that has passed and the year to come.


  1. Block 30 minutes or an hour or so with paper and pen or your favorite digital device for taking notes. Light a candle or put on some music that you love, to make the time you spend a memorable experience.
  2. Recall and write down a list of all the cool things accomplished this year including:
    a. all the neat things you did,
    b. all the new things that you did,
    c. everything you completed,
    d. all the significant events that happened during the year.

Don’t skip this step! This is important as a moment of celebration and informal acknowledgement—which busy, productive people tend to overlook too often.

Review the list and reflect on this question: “What would I truly like to have on that list at the end of the next year?” Write down your answers without agonizing over them or spending too much energy creating project plans, and tuck it away.

If it’s important enough to you, and you’re already managing your day-to-day activity by prioritizing the most important matters in your life, you’ll be surprised by what will get accomplished in the next year.

Allen chuckles when he says, “My biggest advice for the end of year and New Year’s resolutions is to relax. That’s it: relax! And if nothing else, what helps to relax is clean up your kitchen, clean underneath the sink, clean up the trunk of your car, clean the deck, clean the desk drawer.”

Look for more ideas from David Allen to kick off 2016 in the next issue of 24Life.

About David Allen

David Allen, creator of GTD, describes himself as “often identified by my description of a relaxed balance of perspective and control, known as ‘mind like water.’ This is not an empty mind (it’s impossible to have nothing on your mind, if you’re conscious); it’s a mind that is operating at a more productive and creative level. GTD helps you achieve and maintain that optimal condition, by using your mental energies to think about things rather than think of them.”


Take the extra time to scan major areas of your life, home, relationships, work and health.

1. What’s worked well for me in this area in 2015?
2. What would I like to improve upon or experience in this area in 2016?
3. What could I change specifically to support myself more in that area?
(Be realistic in your commitments about where you want to be—these goals should give you energy, not fill you with dread.)
4. Acknowledge and celebrate how far you’ve come and the obstacles you have overcome.

Happy New Year!